Sugar Ants - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Sugar Ants

Living here in South Florida, we share our environment with many different critters. But certain critters, like sugar ants, don't want to "share," they want to invade our homes. That's because our homes provide the creature comforts of warmth, water and food. The ants have become a big problem, but they can be eliminated.

You call them sugar ants, but they're also known as ghost ants and phantom ants because of their tiny size. To the homeowner the phrase "sugar ants" means 13 different species of ants that will invade the structure.

Michael Wilson is a state-certified pest control operator, Instructor, and owner of Aardvark Pest Control. He says 90% of his business concerns sugar ants that stage an assault on your home when it's cool outside or when it rains. And he says, except for a direct hit, the pesticide sprays used by homeowners actually repel those ants rather than kill them. More times than not, the homeowner, by doing their own pest control will actually compound the problem by driving the ants deeper into the structure.

William Brasmar of Lake Worth tried to beat the sugar ants himself, even using crushed chalk because someone told him the creatures wouldn't cross it.

"I put stuff on the window sill because I was getting ants. Originally I saw them. They came through the window and trailed around and got on the counter tops."

He also tried a variety of pesticides like Raid.

"And then I tried Sevin dust. I used that with the chalk. Then I got a wasp and hornet killer."

Nothing worked but he hesitated calling a professional.

"I figured people would think I was dirty for having ants. But I'm not a dirty person. And I don't leave food out."

Actually that's a myth. Michael Wilson says Ants are really clean insects and they're actually attracted to clean homes. So what can a homeowner do? For one thing, keep plants at least one foot from your house and seal up all gaps and cracks, especially around outlets.

"The more gaps and cracks you seal up, the less avenues you provide to your target insect."

He also recommends you let a professional handle your problem. He charges as little as $50 for an initial treatment but it could run in the hundreds for a larger home with a severe infestation. And he can tailor the treatment to use products that aren't toxic.

"If the colony was inside this wall. The baits will take care of it."

The ants have three stomachs. One for themselves. Two for others. They suck up the ant bait and deposit it in the nest.

"The theory behind baiting is, you get the foragers which are the ants you see, to take the bait back to the nest and have them feed everybody else."

It may take several applications but he says it will wipe out entire colonies without smelly and dangerous pesticides inside your home.

Newer homes pose a problem, he says, because the EPA phased out petroleum-based products like caulking, glue and paint. Builders now use synthetic acrylics and latexes and basically all synthetic latexes are proteins and sugar. Ants eat protein and sugar. Another reason we may be seeing more sugar ants are the hurricanes. Wilson says the winds spread the ants to many new locations.

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